The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is an economic and political organization of eight countries in Southern Asia. In terms of population, its sphere of influence is the largest of any regional organization: almost 1.5 billion people, the combined population of its member states. In 1980, Bangladesh President Ziaur Rahman proposed the creation of a trade bloc consisting of South Asian countries. The Bangladeshi proposal was accepted by India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka during a meeting held in Colombo in 1981. In August 1983, the leaders adopted the Declaration on South Asian Regional Cooperation during a summit which was held in New Delhi. The seven South Asian countries, which also included Nepal, Maldives and Bhutan, agreed on five areas of cooperation:
- Agriculture and Rural Development
- Telecommunications, Science, Technology and Meteorology
- Health and Population Activities
- Human Resource Development
Afghanistan was added to the regional grouping at the behest of India on November 13, 2005, With the addition of Afghanistan, the total number of member states were raised to eight (8). The People's Republic of China, the European Union, the United States of America, South Korea, Iran, Myanmar, Australia, and Mauritus are observers to SAARC. (more)
The Bengali Language Movement (Bengali: ভাষা আন্দোলন; Bhasha Andolon), also known as the Language Movement, was a political effort in Bangladesh (then known as East Pakistan), advocating the recognition of the Bengali language as an official language of Pakistan. Such recognition would allow Bengali to be taught in schools and used in government affairs.
When the state of Pakistan was formed in 1947, its two regions, East Pakistan (also called East Bengal) and West Pakistan, were split over cultural, geographical, and linguistic lines. In 1948, the Government of Pakistan ordained Urdu as the sole national language, sparking extensive protests among the Bengali-speaking majority of East Pakistan. Facing rising sectarian tensions and mass discontent with the new law, the government outlawed public meetings and rallies. The students of the University of Dhaka and other political activists defied the law and organised a protest on 21 February 1952. The movement reached its climax when police killed student demonstrators on that day. The deaths provoked widespread civil unrest. After years of conflict, the central government relented and granted official status to the Bengali language in 1956. In 1999, UNESCO declared 21 February International Mother Language Day, in tribute to the Language Movement and the ethno-linguistic rights of people around the world.
The Language Movement catalysed the assertion of Bengali national identity in Pakistan, and became a forerunner to Bengali nationalist movements, including the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. In Bangladesh, 21 February is observed as Language Movement Day, a national holiday. (more...)
|The Old Parliament Building of Sri Lanka near the Galle Face Green is now the Presidential Secretariat of the country.
|Photo credit: Mystìc
Did you know
- ...that Ram Shastri, a celebrated 18th-century judge in the Maratha Empire, created judicial history in India by sentencing the incumbent Peshwa (de facto ruler) to death on a charge of murder?
- ...that the king of Bhutan lifted a ban on television and the Internet in 1999, making Bhutan one of the last countries to introduce television?
Selected Member Country
Afġānistān, officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (Pashto: د افغانستان اسلامي جمهوریت, Persian: جمهوری اسلامی افغانستان), is a landlocked country that is located in the heart of Asia. It is variously designated within Central or South Asia, as well as the Middle East. It has religious, ethno-linguistic, and geographic links with most of its neighbours. It is largely bordered by Pakistan in the south and east, Iran in the west, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in the north, and the People's Republic of China in the far northeast. The name Afghanistan means the "Land of Afghans".
Afghanistan is a culturally mixed nation, a crossroads between the East and the West, and has been ancient focal point of trade and migration. It has an important geostrategical location, connecting South Asia, Central Asia and Middle East together. During its long history, the land has seen various invaders and conquerors, while on the other hand, local entities invaded the surrounding vast regions to form empires to themselves. Ahmad Shah Durrani created a large empire in the middle of the eighteenth century, with its capital at Kandahar. Subsequently, most of its territories were ceded to former neighboring countries. In the 19th century, Afghanistan became a buffer state in "The Great Game" played between the British Empire and Russian Empire. On August 19, 1919, following the third Anglo-Afghan war, the country regained full independence from the United Kingdom over its foreign affairs.
Since the late 1970s, Afghanistan has suffered continuous and brutal civil war, which included foreign interventions in the form of the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the 2001 US invasion of Afghanistan in which the ruling Taliban government was toppled. In December 2001, the United Nations Security Council authorized the creation of an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). This force, composed of NATO troops, has been involved in assisting the government of President Hamid Karzai in establishing authority across the nation. In 2005, the United States and Afghanistan signed a strategic partnership agreement committing both nations to a long-term relationship. In the meantime, about 40 billion US dollars have also been provided by the international community for the reconstruction of the country.
At a glance
Map of Kashmir highlighting the disputed territory : Shown in green is Kashmiri region under Pakistani control. The orange-brown region represents Indian-controlled Jammu and Kashmir while the Aksai Chin is under Chinese occupation.
Map credit: CIA
Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit; Pali: Siddhāttha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from ancient Nepal and the founder of Buddhism. He is universally recognized by Buddhists as the Supreme Buddha (Sammāsambuddha) of our age. The time of his birth and death are uncertain: a majority of 20th-century historians date his lifetime from circa 563 BCE to 483 BCE, but some more recent scholars have suggested dates around 410 or 400 BCE for his death. This alternative chronology, however, has not yet been accepted by other historians.
Gautama, also known as Shakyamuni (“sage of the Shakyas”, in Pali "śakamuṇi"), is the key figure in Buddhism, and accounts of his life, discourses, and monastic rules were summarized after his death and memorized by the sangha. Passed down by oral tradition, the Tripitaka, the collection of discourses attributed to Gautama, was committed to writing about 400 years later.
Siddhartha was born in Lumbini, Nepal. His father was King Suddhodana, the chief of the Shakya nation, one of several ancient tribes in the growing state of Kosala; Gautama was the family name. His mother, Queen Maha Maya (Māyādevī) and Suddhodana's wife, was a Koliyan princess. (more...)
Wikipedia in South Asian Languages
: मुंबई, IAST
: /'mumbəi/ (help·info)
), formerly known as Bombay
, is the capital of the state
, the most populous city
, and by some measures the most populous city in the world
with an estimated population of about 13 million
(as of 2007). Mumbai is located on Salsette Island
, off the west coast
of Maharashtra. Along with its neighbouring suburbs, it forms the world's fifth most populous metropolitan area
with a population of about 20 million. The metro population ranking is projected to rise to 4th in the world by 2015 due to an annual growth rate of 2.2%. The city has a deep natural harbour and the port handles over half of India's passenger traffic and a significant amount of cargo.
Mumbai is the commercial and entertainment capital of India, and houses important financial institutions, such as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), the National Stock Exchange of India (NSE) and the corporate headquarters of many Indian companies. Mumbai has attracted migrants from all over India because of the immense business opportunities, and the relatively high standard of living, making the city a potpourri of various communities and cultures. The city is home to India's Hindi film and television industry, known as Bollywood. Mumbai is also one of the few cities that accommodates a national park, the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, within its city limits. (more)